Berry students support women’s shelter

November 29, 2018 GMT

Students of Berry College’s ceramics classes will be selling handmade clay mugs and ornaments Friday at the Moon Building, studio 102, from 3-6 p.m. to benefit The Ruth and Naomi Project.

Dennis Ritter gave his students the assignment of coming up with a local organization they could help through their art. Ritter said the students took time to think about it, broke up into groups and decided on helping The Ruth and Naomi Project. The Ruth and Naomi Project is a new homeless shelter for women and will be the newest addition to the William S. Davies homeless shelters.

This is Ritter’s first year at Berry College. He said he wants to implement community outreach every semester if possible.

“It’s a big part of Berry’s mission,” he said, adding he wants to incorporate this into the classroom.

His students, who comprise several classes, have been working to create mugs and ornaments made out of clay. The students will sell half of what they made at the benefit and gift the other half to the William S. Davies homeless shelters for residents to use or enjoy.

Devon Smyth, executive director of William S. Davies homeless shelters, visited one of Ritter’s classes on Wednesday to explain where the money raised will go and to answer any questions the students had. Unlike the other shelters that fall under the William S. Davies umbrella, The Ruth and Naomi Project will be a shelter exclusively for women, she said. The new shelter will be able to house eight single women and four women with children.

Smyth said she is hoping to be open by the beginning of the year, with some minor details still standing in the way of being 100 percent complete. She did say, however, over 700 members of the community have been involved with this shelter since the project started.

She gave students a list of necessities for the men’s and women’s shelter to hand out on the day of their benefit.

“If you need toilet paper at your house I need it times 16 at the men’s shelter,” she said.

When asked what else needs to be done besides raise money, Smyth said to tell the shelter’s story. She told students that selling these ornaments starts a conversation about homelessness and helps turn “them” into “us.”

The ornaments were molded out of red clay using cookie cutters, knives or free hand. The clay was fired in a kiln by Ritter and his student helpers who made sure everything was ready for the glazing stage.

Berry Middle School’s eighth-graders assisted with the glazing process on Tuesday, something teacher Claire Howard said they have not been able to do before. She said this year is the first time they have done something like this and the students seem to enjoy it. After the ornaments were glazed, they went back into the electric kiln to give them a glossy look. The mugs made by students were in the gas kiln outside the Moon Building.

The mugs and ornaments will be sold on Friday at the Moon Building, studio 102, from 3-6 p.m. Mugs will range from $5 to $20, and the ornaments will range from $2 to $10, while supplies last.

Cash and checks will be accepted, checks must be made out to William S. Davies Shelter Inc.

For more information on The Ruth and Naomi project visit www.daviesshelter.com.